Clonmacnoise, Shannon Bridge, Athlone, County Offaly

Situated in County Offaly on the River Shannon is the historic monastery of Clonmacnoise (Meadow of the Sons of Nós). The monastery was founded by Saint Ciarán, the first abbot of Clonmacnoise in c 548 but most of the buildings which were made of wood date back to 900 – 1200 and have not survived time. From the 10th century onwards they were built of stone,these are the remnants of the building you can see today. Like all monastic communes it was pillaged on numerous occasions by Vikings and Anglo-Normans. From the 13th Century it fell into decay and was destroyed by the English Garrison in 152.

Today the site includes ruins of Seven Churches, a Cathedral, two Round Towers, three high crosses and a large collection of graveslabs dating back early christians times.

It was a centre for Religion and learning and was visited by scholars from all over Europe. The monastery had close ties to the Kings of Connacht and was also allied to the Kings of Meath because of its location. From that time, buried here are many of the high kings of Tara and Connacht including the last high king of Ireland, Rory O’Connor who was buried here in 1198.

Brian Boru (Bryan Boru) has a very close association with Clonmacnoise. Brian had a happy childhood, living among his family and Clan in Killaloe, County Clare. This blissful live was short lived. The Vikings had arrived in Ireland; they pillaged his home and killed many of his family including his adored mother, who was “the heart of his world”. A heartbroken Brian is sent to the monastery of Clonmacnoise for safety and to be educated by the monks. In spite of his youth, Brian (Bryan Boru) earns respect from his peers and students. Brian became an avid reader, learning strategies on warfare from great military leaders, to which he used throughout his career on the battlefield.  After spending years here he returns home fully of wisdom and ideas on how to defeat the Vikings.

Clonmacnoise - Visitor Centre

Clonmacnoise Visitor Centre is open all year round. The Monastery is located on the river Shannon, which makes it an tranquil place for a cruise. There are ample amount of operator who provide guided trips and self-cruises. It’s here at the Visitor Centre where you can purchase tickets for guides around the site.